Waterfowling on Earthquake Lake
September 06, 2019
Every fan of duck hunting should make the pilgrimage to Tennessee's famous mallard waters to test a new gun.
Reelfoot Lake looms enormously in the consciousness of modern waterfowling, a place of legend. At 15,000 acres and an average depth of 5.5 feet, this is duck heaven. Vast cypress-filled waters surrounded by swamps and marsh beckon staggering numbers of waterfowl, and hunters. The culture is deep, with many types of both duck calls and calling styles evolving here, and waters rimmed with enormous heritage blinds that are state-of-the art.
Crazy thing is, the lake itself is actually pretty young! Far-reaching earthquakes centered around New Madrid in Missouri in 1811 formed “Quake Lake” as part of the land sunk and retreated, to put it simply. Reelfoot is just across the Big Muddy from New Madrid, and tremors from these quakes were felt far into Canada.
Ultimately, it’s a pretty spectacular place to test out a new shotgun.
WILDFOWL has repeatedly profiled both the glorious hunting on these waters as well as the cool duck-dependent community that surrounds and relies on the lake.
WF’s own Jim McConville ventured here in December to try to melt the barrels on a CZ 1210 semi auto loader as well as their 12 gauge Swamp Magnum over under, along with Daniel Holder from CZ and Kristi Scott Heuring from Aguila Ammunition. Kristi’s father David Elrod teamed with guide Carl Roger and his son Blake.
“The Reelfoot Lake duck hunting experience just swallowed me up,” said McConville. “The duck blind was like a floating 5-Star resort roughly 24 feet long and 10 wide. The Rogers were able to pull the boat into a fully covered hide, so our hunting party could then step through a sliding door into a heated duck shelter with a fully operational kitchen with stove and steaming coffee pot.”
These guys aren’t new at this. Carl Roger is a third generation duck guide, and his grandfather established the business back in 1952 with a blind location that Carl uses today. “One of the most fascinating things I saw was Carl Roger calling in ducks to the decoy spread by using his voice YANK, YANK, YANK!” McConville reports.
The autoloader proved an affordable home run.
“When I grabbed the bronze version of the 1210 and pointed it to the sky, I was waking up all the positive sight pictures in my brain from the past three decades of hunting ducks and geese,” Big Jim said. “It just felt right, and when I started to feed it with some Winchester Super X 12 Gauge #4 3” magnums at 1550 fps, it came alive exhaling each round like a machine. It made it easy to hit the incoming ducks that responded to Carl’s silky sweet voice.”
The 5-star blind/resort known as #R134 (TN Wildlife Permit # for Reelfoot Lake Blinds) played host to Kristi’s first duck hunt, as well.
“So we all agreed to let the lady shoot first, and then Kristi dropped her first gadwall drake then a drake spoonbill,” Jim says, “So we ALL said the heck with that, it’s every man, woman, child and black lab for themselves.”
Expect to shell out about $660 for the 1210 Bronze version, though MSRP prices typically sway a bit. At a price like that you can afford to hot-foot it to Reelfoot, and you are crazy not to try. If you’re a history geek, the place has a fascinating and tumultuous past worth reading about—land barons and night riders battling it out. Wild West stuff on these now sublime waters.